Pfizer delays disrupt COVID-19 vaccine distribution plans in Kingston
The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrive in Kingston. (Photo courtesy: Kingston Health Sciences Centre)
KINGSTON -- Just days after the Kingston region received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, the region's top doctor says the vaccine distribution is being affected by the Pfizer production delays.
Under the initial timeline, 5,000 long-term care home residents and an additional 5,000 long-term care home workers and essential support workers would have received the COVID-19 vaccine over the next few weeks.
Now, only patients will receive both the first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to Queen’s University infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans, the delay in Pfizer deliveries will be felt at hospitals across eastern Ontario.
"The hospital is basically working with public health in partnership to follow the directives of the government," Dr. Evans tells CTV News Ottawa. "They’re the ones determining where the vaccines should be given and who it should be given to, and we’re simply following those."
That is a concern for nursing student Yessica Rivera Belsham. She says she understands the need to put patients at the front of the line, but feels there should be a sense of urgency to getting workers their shots.
"It’s a priority to get the frontline care workers the vaccine, to be able to do more good in the community, to help others in need," Belsham says.
While taking questions from media on Thursday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said workers remain at the top of the list.
"We want to assure all workers in long-term care and all essential caregivers: you are next on that list," said Dr. Moore.
To meet the new targets, Moore says the health unit will be receiving doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from neighbouring health units for the first week of February.
Dr. Evans says he agrees with the province's prioritization.
"We really have to do everything we can to reduce the deaths and the morbidity of the illness that we’re seeing primarily in the long-term care homes here in Ontario," said Evans.
Despite the setback, public health says as production ramps up, it projects about 60,000 people in the region will be immunized by April.